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Ihumātao: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will visit the protest site



Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to visit Ihumātao.

It comes a day after more than 300 protesters took part in a hike from land in south Auckland to Ardern's electorate office in Mt Albert.

The group delivered an invitation to Ardern with more than 26,000 signatures for her to visit them at the site, something she has so far refused to do.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will visit Ihumātao.

ROSS GIBLIN / STUFF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will visit Ihumātao.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Ardern said she had never visited the land, and she would do so eventually.

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She said she "absolutely" wanted to see the land.

A protest has been underway at Ihumātao for a month after those occupying the land were served an eviction notice.

Chris McKeen

A protest has been underway at Ihumātao for a month after those occupying the land were served an eviction notice.

"I have never ruled out visiting. For me it's all about ensuring I respect the process that is underway by Kiingitanga but I will visit Ihumātao.

"It's been no question for me. It's just all about timing."

Ardern first spoke out about the protests three days after they began, saying no work would take place at the site until a solution was found.

The hikoi, and invitation, arrives at the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

CHRIS MCKEEN / STUFF

The hikoi, and invitation, arrives at the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Protesters had called on Ardern to resolve the situation but had previously said it would be inappropriate for the government to intervene as the local iwi, Te Kawerau ā Maki, supported the development.

Ardern said she believed the government could try and help facilitate a solution.

When she needed to be at the center of the discussion and there was a role for the Government in helping to find a way through, she said.

"We can play a role in trying to help a broker find a solution."

On Friday, the Human Rights Commission also issued a report aimed at helping resolve the issues at Ihumātao.

"It is our hope that our report may assist discussions and discussions around the country about Ihumātao by examining New Zealand's human rights commitments under the Declaration and Te Tiriti o Waitangi to the dispute," said Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner.

Human rights principles support the approach taken by people when disagreements within indigenous communities about whether free, prior and informed consent is achieved are best resolved by indigenous peoples, Hunt said.

"The Government, for its part, needs to ensure that consensus building processes within the indigenous peoples' community are non-coercive and do not cause division."

Protests have taken place at the site for the last month after those occupying the land for the past three years have submitted an eviction notice.

Protesters are trying to stop a Fletcher Building housing development at the dispersed site near Auckland Airport.

Fletcher bought the land off the private owners of the Wallace family in 2016.

Local iwi Te Kawerau in Maki reached an agreement with Fletcher that would see houses given to local Māori in a shared equity scheme, but protesters say iwi has no mandate over the land.

Colonial troops forced Māori from the land during the 19th century Waikato Invasion: a campaign to stamp out Māori King movement and clear lands for European settlement.


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